July 23, 2010
Eustace: Salary cut! PM: You first!

The ball has been batted back into Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ half of the political court in relation to salary cuts for parliamentarians.{{more}}

“Ask for its implementation – not just if I do it. He must do it. He must start the ball rolling, not me. He has us in this mess.”

That was Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace’s comments to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday regarding Gonsalves’ challenge to follow Eustace’s lead if Eustace takes a salary cut now.

Eustace, speaking at his New Democratic Party’s (NDP) convention on Sunday, said an NDP government would propose reduced salaries for Members of Parliament (MP) and board members of state companies.

Gonsalves on Tuesday said Eustace and his NDP MPs had refused to take a 5 per cent salary cut when MPs for the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) took a similar reduction in 2001 after the terrorist attacks in the United States.

“You don’t have to wait, Arnhim, until you hope to get into office – which you will never get into office – so you wouldn’t have to take the five percent salary cut. Take it now,” Gonsalves said.

“And I don’t want you to ask your other members to take. Arnhim, you take 5 per cent cut now, Ralph Gonsalves will take 10; you take 15, I will take 20. [If] you name man, do that,” Gonsalves said, as he asked the media to convey the “challenge” to Eustace.

However, Eustace told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that the Opposition MPs had decided to donate a portion of their salary to charity when Gonsalves proposed the salary cut in 2001.

He said he donates to the Care Fund at Calliaqua Methodist Church and a Methodist mission in Sion Hill, which use the donation to help the poor and pay transportation cost for disadvantaged students. (KXC)